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La Palma - Holidays, Flights and Hotels

Spain and La Palma

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La Palma is one of the Canary Islands, with an area of 706 kmē. Total population is about 85,000, of which 18,000 (2003 data) live in the capital, Santa Cruz de la Palma and about 20,000 (2004 data) in Los Llanos de Aridane.

La Palma's geography is a result of the volcanic building of the island. The highest peaks reach about 2.4 km above sea level, and the foundation of the island reaches more than 3 km below sea level. The northern part of La Palma is dominated by the Caldera de Taburiente, the largest erosion crater in the world, with a width of 9 km and a depth of 1.5 km. It is surrounded by the Cumbre Vieja, a ring of mountains ranging from 1.6 km to 2.4 km in height. Only the deep canyon Barranco de las Angustias leads into inner area of the caldera which is a national park. It can be reached only by hiking. The outer slopes are cut by numerous gorges which run from 2 km down to the sea. Today, only few of these carry water due to the water tunnels.

Through the southern part of La Palma leads the ridge Cumbre Nueva formed by numerous volcanic cones built of ashes, providing a rather bizarre landscape. The southern cape Punta de Fuencaliente, where the most recent volcanic activities took place, consists of lava and ashes.

La Palma is dominated by the colors blue, green and black. Blue is the surrounding ubiquitous sea. Green comes from the abundant plant life which is the most diverse in the Canary Islands. Black comes from the volcanic rocks that still fill the landscape, and from the numerous small beaches made of black sand.

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There are a few nice towns, but the main attraction is the countryside. Spectacular volcanic landscapes reaching up above the clouds with dense vegetation in the valleys make for some spectacular hiking.

The highest point on the island, La Roque de los Muchachos (2426m -- about 8000 feet), is easily accessible by car most of the year and the views from there are spectacular and provide a good introduction to the geography of the island (note that access is restricted at night as this is the site of a major international astronomical observatory -- always read the signposts -- also note that roads and trails can be closed for a few days in the winter due to snow). There is a very extensive network of marked walking trails over the whole island which are well signposted and walking maps are available from the tourist office in Santa Cruz.